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Mulanje Mountain Forest under threat

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Illegal timber milling is threatening the vegetative cover of Mulanje Mountain.

Mulanje District Forestry Officer Lemos Mlaviwa said the Forestry Department nearly contained the problem of illegal timber milling on the Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve when the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers were guarding the forest.

However, Mlaviwa said illegal timber millers have crept back into the forest following the withdrawal of the soldiers few months ago.

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He said forestry officials have been confiscating illegal timber and vehicles carrying the timber from the mountain.

“The problem is huge. Most of the timber is from Mulanje cedar and blue gum trees from the mountain. The mountain has lost about 500 hectares of vegetation at Chambe Basin, many Mulanje cedar trees at Mulanje Mountain Plateau and other types of trees from other parts of the mountain,” he said.

Mlaviwa said the presence of the MDF soldiers saw a lot of people for the first time seeking advice and permission before invading the mountain but they stopped when the soldiers left.

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He said Mulanje District Forestry Office is improving its law enforcement system and engaging other partners in its Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve re-afforestation drive.

He said his office is engaging the communities to own the forest as they stand to lose the most if the vegetative cover is lost.

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